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John Simmons Young

Military

Captain John S. Young from Dallas Texas was a WWII B-24D Liberator bomber command pilot with the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron based at Cairo, Egypt and Benghazi, Libya in 1942-3. He flew on the deadly mission, Operation Tidal Wave over the Ploesti, Romania oil refineries. He was assigned to fly with Col. John R. (Killer) Kane in the 98th Bombing Group's lead aircraft, 'Hail Columbia'. Col. Kane and Capt. Young successfully attacked and bombed their target, code named White IV, the Astra Romano oil refinery.

After arriving in North Africa, John Young's second personal plane was the 'Kickapoo', the B-24D SN #41-11768, which he named after "Kickapoo Joy Juice" from Al Capp's "Dogpatch" cartoon. He had already flown many tactical bombing missions from the time he arrived in North Africa, in mid 1942 to August, 1943, attached to the British Army Expeditionary Force, flying against German and italian tactical land targets, axis shipping in the Mediterranean, enemy ports, and port facilities in Italy, Crete, Greece, and Sicily, flying unescorted, often being attacked by Italian and German fighters. On one of these occasions, Capt. Young's B-24 bomber was attacked over the Mediterranean Sea by no less than two squadrons of eight German ME-109 fighter planes. He and his crew desperately fought them off during a twenty minute fight in a spiraling defensive corkscrew descent down to the water's surface. His gunners shot down four of the German fighters before the remaining four gave up and disengaged, but not before they had shot and damaged Young's B-24 so badly that he had to ditch it in the ocean just off the beach at the island of Crete, which he did with no casualties. He and all his of his crew members swam to shore where they were captured by Turkish soldiers and later released back to the British and returned to Benghazi. Although he had more than his 25 mission requirement to go home by the time Operation Tidal Wave was announced, Capt. Young, like many other men, stayed to help plan and fight the Ploesti mission. For the mission, Col. John Kane, replaced his assigned copilot, mission commander, General Uzal Ent, a dangerously terrible pilot, with Capt. Young to fly as copilot with him in 'Hail Columbia', the 98th Bomb Group's lead B-24, for the mission, along with all of Capt. Young's regular crew, including Lt. Norman Whalen, Young's navigator, Capt. Harry Korger, his bombardier, and the rest of 'Kickapoo''s original crew. However, on takeoff for the Ploesti mission, 'Kickapoo', with a replacement crew from the 376th Bomb Group, had it's number four engine fail and catch fire. Then, shortly thereafter, two more engines failed, causing it's replacement pilot, Lt. Robert Nespor to crash in flames while attempting to land back on the field at Benghazi, killing Nespor, his copilot, Lt. John Riley, and all but two of the replacement crew. On the Ploesti mission, Col. Kane and Capt. Young, leading the 98th Bomb Group, attacked and bombed their target, White IV, the Astra Romana refinery, even though, by the time they made their approach to the target, it had already been bombed, and still was being bombed by the 93rd Bomb Group, who had attacked it earlier from the south in the confusion and chaos created by the wrong turn made by the mission's leader, Gen. Ent and Col. Keith Compton at Targoviste. So, when 'Hail Columbia', and the rest of the 98th and 44th bomb groups arrived at their first Initial Point, they and the bomb groups following them saw they were facing the full effects of BOTH the German ground defenses AND the fires, explosions, and secondary explosions from the time-delayed bombs dropped earlier by Col. Addison Baker's 93rd Bomb Group onto White IV, which now was a black wall of flames, boiling smoke, and explosions from the 93rd's delayed action bombs. Col. John Kane, Capt. Young in 'Hail Columbia', Col. Leon Johnson, the rest of the 98th and the 44th Bomb Group, the Flying Eight Balls, following them, unlike mission commander Gen. Ent's failure to attack Ploesti, all turned into White IV's already boiling hell of an exploding, burning inferno. Also approaching Ploesti from the south, the 376th crews were also surprised to see the smoke, fire, and confusion of exploding bombs with aircraft on fire, crashing, and others exploding in midair from the attack of the 93d against targets White IV and White V. Major Norman Appold after hearing Gen. Ent's order over the radio to find targets of opportunity, had left the main 376th formation, swung left with two wingmen and looked north for a target. He decided on Target White II, Concordia Vega, and after releasing bombs, his flight crossed the inbound path of Killer Kane’s 98th headed for Target White IV. This resulted in more moments of stark terror and violent maneuvering as they all tried to avoid midair collisions! Then, from their attack speed of 210 miles per hour and 200 feet altitude to clear the smoke stacks of the refineries, 'Hail Columbia' and it's followers strafed and bombed their targets as best they could in the suicidal chaos, smoke, and confusion. Col. Kane later wrote after the mission that it took all of his and John Young's combined arm strength to manhandle, maintain control, and fly the rolling, shaking, vibrating, bucking bronco that 'Hail Columbia' became in the blinding smoke, flames, the wake turbulence from the other planes, and the explosions all around, and under 'Hail Columbia" over White IV, all the while, seeing their friends and their planes being hit by the deadly flak, blown up over the delayed action bomb explosions and burning oil tanks, burning, crashing into the ground, and dying all around them. 'Hail Columbia', like all the other planes, was hit numerous times and badly damaged by the deadly accurate German flak guns, which shot out their #4 engine. Then the #3 engine's propeller tip was also hit and holed, and began vibrating badly. Yet, miraculously, they were alive and still flying, coming out of the burning hell of White IV. Kane and Capt. Young, then, had to maneuver and dive their crippled B-24 again to also miss running into the converging planes from the 93rd Bomb Group, which flew right through their formation still bombing White IV as a target of opportunity in the confusion of the broken mission that Operation Tidal Wave had become. In contrast, having been in the area for over 20 minutes without attacking a suitable target, Col. Keith Compton, flying with Gen. Ent, leading the 376th, salvoed his bombs over the hills north of Ploesti and headed west towards home. But upon leaving the flak guns south of the White IV area, Kane and Young had to turn, and fight off attacks from defending Romanian and German fighters now diving down on them as they cleared the flak area south of White IV. When the fighters finally disengaged and flew away, and as 'Hail Columbia' and the other survivors of the 98th, 93rd, 44th, and 376th bomb groups were leaving Ploesti behind them, a number of other both healthy and crippled straggler planes joined up with them, and, by luck, by excellent flying, and by means of the excellent navigating done by 'Hail Columbia's lead navigator, Lt. Norman Whelen, most of the planes, somehow, made it all the way out of Romania, then, to and over the mountains to the Mediterranean Sea, and flew on south to the British air base at Nicosia, Cyprus, where 'Hail Columbia''s two exhausted pilots crash landed a crippled "Hail Columbia' on Nicosia's runway just after dark, just ahead of Lt. Robert Sternfels in 'The Sandman', who landed safely and gave both Kane and Young a ride back to Benghazi the next day. Col. John Kane, Capt. John Young, Capt. Harold Korger, Lt. Norman Whelen, and Lt. Robert Sternfels, all survived the war. John Young was honorably discharged from the Army Air Corps in 1946 with the rank of Major. - John Young died in 1983.

Service

People

  • Addison Baker

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Air Group Commander / Command Pilot | 93rd Bomb Group
    Col. Addison Baker was the Commanding Officer of the 93rd Bomb Group, 8th Air Force from May 17, 1943 to August, 1943. Baker's Bomb Group, the 93rd, was one of three bomb groups from the Eighth Air Force in Britain that were sent to Benghazi, Libya to...

  • Keith Compton

    Military | General | B-24 Command Pilot - Squadron Commander - Commanding Officer | 376th Bomb Group
    Keith Karl Compton (December 9, 1915 – June 15, 2004) was an American Air Force Lieutenant General who was Vice Commander in Chief, Strategic Air Command. He flew as Command Pilot with Gen. Uzal Ent on Operation Tidal Wave over the Ploesti oil...

  • Uzal Ent

    Military | Major General | Commanding General
    Uzal Girard Ent was an American Army Air Forces officer who served as the commander of the Ninth and subsequently Second Air Force during World War II. Flew on the 1st Aug 43 Ploesti oil refinery raid. In October 1944, was seriously injured in the...

  • Leon Johnson

    Military | Brigadier General | Pilot; Commanding Officer | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Superior leadership during the Ploesti raid 1 August 1943 in B-24 #41-23817 'Suzy Q. ' ...

  • John Kane

    Military | Colonel | Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    John Riley Kane (January 5, 1907 – May 29, 1996) was a colonel in the United States Army Air Forces and later the United States Air Force, who received the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, in World War II. ...

  • Harold Korger

    Military | Colonel | Bombardier | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. Harold Korger was a bombardier in the 344th Bombardment Squadron, 98th Bomb Group, 9th AF on Capt. John Young's crew in a B-24 named 'Kickapoo'. He graduated from Bombardier School at Midland Field in 1942 and was commissioned a 2nd Lt. In February...

  • Robert Nespor

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 93rd Bomb Group
    Lt. Nespor was a B-24 command bomber pilot of the 330th BS, 93rd Bomb Group, 9th AF. He was reassigned to fly the B-24 Liberator #41-11768, 'Kickapoo', of the 344th BS, 98th BG, 9th AF for Operation Tidal Wave, the Ploesti oil refineries mission. He...

  • John Palm

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 376th Bomb Group
    B-24

  • John Riley

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot B-24D
    Lt. John Riley lost his life, as one of the first casualties of "Operation Tidal Wave" on August 1st, 1943, one of the biggest, most important, and most daring air raids of WWII, coming in at tree top level to destroy the Germans' Romanian oil...

  • Robert Sternfels

    Military | Major | B-24 Command Bomber Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. Robert Sternfels was a B-24D command bomber pilot in WWII who flew the famous B-24D bomber, 'The Sandman' on the mission Operation Tidal Wave to bomb the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, August 1, 1943. After enlisting as an Air Force pilot in...

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Units served with

  • 344th Bomb Squadron

    344th Bomb Squadron


    Established as a B-24 Liberator heavy bomb squadron and trained by Third Air Force. Deployed to Egypt in June 1942 over South Atlantic Transport Route transiting from Morrison Field, Florida though the Caribbean to Brazil; performed trans-Atlantic...

  • 376th Bomb Group

    376th Bomb Group

    Group
    Constituted as 376th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 19 Oct 1942 and activated in Palestine on 31 Oct. Began combat immediately, using B-24 aircraft. Operated with Ninth AF from bases in the Middle East, Nov 1942-Sep 1943, and with Twelfth AF from Tunisia...

  • 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    Group
    The 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated 15-January-1942 at McDill Field, Florida and equipped with B-24Cs. The Group moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana and acted as a training unit for the 90th 93rd and 98th Bomb Groups and flew anti...

  • 98th Bomb Group

    98th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 98th trained for bombardment missions with B-24 Liberators during the first half of 1942. ...

Aircraft

  • 42-40402 The Sandman

    B-24 Liberator
    Crew of "The Sandman" on the Ploesti raid: ...

  • 41-11825 'Hail Columbia' 'Grumpy' 'Little Chief Big Dog'

    B-24 Liberator
    This aircraft originally served in the 344th BS as 'HAIL COLUMBIA'. It was 344th CO Col. John R. Kane's personal aircraft until Kane became 98th BG CO and turned it over to Herman "Big-Dog" Lewis. Lewis changed the right side nose art to 'LITTLE-CHIEF...

  • 41-11768 Kickapoo

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24 liberator #41-11768, 'Kickapoo', of the 344th Bombing Squadron, 98th Bomb Group, 9th Air Force. This was Capt. John S. Young's second regular aircraft after he lost his first B-24 in theater, which was shot down earlier in 1943 in an air fight...

  • 42-40657 'G I Ginnie'

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24 Liberator #42-40657 'G I Ginnie', 514th BS, 376th BG, 9th AF, flew on 1st Aug 43 Ploesti oil refinery raid piloted by Norman C Appold, returning safely to Libya. ...

Missions

  • Operation Tidal Wave

    1 August 1943
    Operation TIDAL WAVE. B24D Liberators attack the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. The bombers flew low to avoid radar detection and dropped time delayed bombs. Out of the 177 B24Ds that took part in the raid 167 managed to attack their targets. 57...

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Date Contributor Update
30 November 2018 03:53:43 Kickapoo Changes to person associations and unit associations
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill - personal collections

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30 November 2018 03:38:59 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill - and from personal collection

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30 November 2018 03:07:34 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill - and personal collection

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30 November 2018 03:05:12 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill - and from personal collection

Date Contributor Update
30 November 2018 03:02:08 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill - and from personal collections

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28 November 2018 07:08:53 Kickapoo Changes to biography and person associations
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Black Subday - Michael Hill

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28 November 2018 06:56:05 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

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28 November 2018 06:50:49 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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black sunday - Michael Hill

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28 November 2018 01:14:20 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
24 November 2018 04:17:17 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
24 November 2018 03:55:20 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
24 November 2018 02:42:07 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
13 November 2018 14:24:00 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
13 November 2018 14:19:02 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
13 November 2018 14:17:13 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
13 November 2018 14:13:34 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
13 November 2018 14:10:10 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
13 November 2018 13:59:36 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
13 November 2018 13:50:31 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
13 November 2018 08:42:32 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
13 November 2018 08:33:40 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
17 October 2018 05:33:19 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill The Dallas Morning News

Date Contributor Update
17 October 2018 05:30:09 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill The Dallas Morning News

Date Contributor Update
15 October 2018 03:38:41 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill The Dallas Morning News

Date Contributor Update
15 October 2018 03:24:42 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill The Dallas Morning News

Date Contributor Update
12 October 2018 04:29:26 Kickapoo Changes to media associations
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
12 October 2018 03:32:49 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
11 October 2018 01:03:38 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
11 October 2018 00:44:54 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
04 October 2018 03:20:28 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
04 October 2018 03:09:36 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
25 September 2018 16:06:15 Kickapoo Changes to awards
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
24 September 2018 20:20:07 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
24 September 2018 20:10:46 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
24 September 2018 19:37:41 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
23 September 2018 18:12:35 Kickapoo Changes to role
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Black Sunday - Michael hill

Date Contributor Update
23 September 2018 18:08:59 Kickapoo Changes to awards
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Black Sunday - Michael hill

Date Contributor Update
23 September 2018 17:57:44 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael hill

Date Contributor Update
17 September 2018 09:27:17 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
17 September 2018 09:21:25 Kickapoo Changes to awards
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
17 September 2018 09:11:23 Kickapoo Changes to awards
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
01 September 2018 10:53:07 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
30 August 2018 19:49:34 Kickapoo Changes to nickname and biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
30 August 2018 19:44:03 Kickapoo Changes to nickname, biography and awards
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
30 August 2018 18:37:00 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
30 August 2018 09:14:55 Kickapoo Changes to media associations
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Black Sunday-Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
30 August 2018 08:54:26 Kickapoo Changes to service number, biography, awards and place associations
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Black Sunday- Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
17 August 2018 00:15:34 Kickapoo Changes to biography
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
17 August 2018 00:09:20 Kickapoo Changes to nickname, role, unit associations and aircraft associations
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Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
01 August 2018 18:20:58 Kickapoo Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nickname, nationality, highest rank, role, person associations, unit associations, place associations, aircraft associations and mission associations
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Black Sunday : Ploesti Michael Hill

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